The 2011-12 offseason set off its final fireworks last week when the Detroit Tigers came out of nowhere to sign Prince Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million contract. With Fielder locked up, Edwin Jackson is now the only clearly above-average free agent left on the market. Short of one last mega-trade, always a possibility, most teams essentially have their courses plotted for the 2012 season. For the Tigers and Los Angeles Angels, that course is already plotted for the next several years, as a result of the signings of Fielder and Albert Pujols.
At total contract values of $254 million and $214 million for Pujols and Fielder, respectively, the Angels and Tigers made major statements about what they hope to accomplish during the next few seasons. After all, one doesn't sign superstars to the second- or fourth-biggest deals in baseball history with the intention of undergoing a radical rebuilding or extensive fire sale.
The thing is, contracts aren't signed in a vacuum. Pujols might put up better fantasy stats than Fielder over the next nine years, but if the Tigers win more World Series than the Angels, then you'd have to say Detroit's deal worked out better. So the question is: Which team is in better position to capitalize on its investment?